Sunday afternoon, back in my hometown of Delta, CO, I will officially be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The road here has been long, and not without a few surprises, which I think will make Sunday even more joyous. I know the people of the church where I grew up are excited, too. They even ran a brief newspaper article about it! Their excitement has reminded me of all the people who have influenced my life for whom I’m grateful: professors, Bible study leaders, pastors, friends, family members. Too many to list here. Many of these people will participate in the service on Sunday, and for their presence there I’m even more grateful.
When I was a Youth Advisory Delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA four years ago, a cross like the one pictured here was given to me. (Some Presbyterians even refer to these as Montreat crosses, because of their association with the Montreat conference center.) The young woman who gave it to me was then a Pittsburgh Seminary student. As they passed out crosses to all of the YADs in the room, we were reminded to place Christ first in all of our decisions at General Assembly. After GA was over, I walked away from the Assembly with a clear sense that I was called to minister within the PC(USA), working for healing and renewal in the church. This Sunday, at my ordination, I plan to wear that same cross as a reminder of that sense of call, as well as a reminder that ministry requires following Christ even in his crucifixion.
Knowing that I’m being ordained into a rather unconventional call, as co-organizing pastor of a new church-plant, I take comfort in the words of a short prayer from the Morning Prayer liturgy in the Book of Common Worship: Eternal God, you call us to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go with courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us, and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.